How To Rock a Cross Country Move Like a Project Manager

Moving to a new city is tough. I’ve moved cities a few times in my life and while each move presents new and unique challenges, there are some obstacles you can always count on.

If there’s one thing I have learned about moving, it’s that you’ve got to rely on yourself to face and handle these obstacles one by one, head on. I find the same types of challenges in project management. You’ve got to adapt, and you’ve got to prepare.

Last year, I was ready to leave my hometown of New Orleans and head north for the Windy City. Revelry supports location flexibility in our culture, so I took full advantage of this and relocated to Chicago, as part of our second office expansion.

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I found that I got to practice and grow my project management skills during this major life event, and that in turn, the experience helped shape the way I manage projects.

Planning – it’s like the Discovery phase.

Preparing for a move is a lot of work, and the amount of preparation you put in will likely indicate your success. I’ve found that taking time to anticipate the project — physically and mentally — can make a world of difference.

Laying out the groundwork allows you to consider all possible scenarios and research options. There will always be something you didn’t consider, but there are also people who are willing to help.

Set goals for yourself: what kinds of things are important to you during this move?
Lay out tasks that support those goals, and ask for help from folks who already live in your new city. They can help guide you on the best brands of coats for winter, or the best places to get a deep dish pizza pie.

Our Discovery phase at Revelry happens before things really get going.
During this first week of every project, we understand the value proposition as defined by the product owner. And then, each week kicks off with a sprint planning call with the product owner to review our plans and ensure everything is on track and on target.

The empty Kanban board of a new environment

Moving to a new city inevitably means you’re putting yourself in a new environment. So many unknowns! Where to start? There are some basic things to consider that will guide your move: time, budget, purpose, connections, time of year, and more.

There’s so much potential for your aunt’s chair in the corner of that bleach-clean apartment, with its beige walls and empty spaces. And will my ficus tree fit better in that corner or the other? With possibilities, however, come constraints.

When deciding where to live, the neighborhood matters too.
An MVP project with a fresh codebase can be set up on so many platforms, but choosing the right one is not to be taken lightly. When we architect a system, we set up the environment for the app, define the framework and language, and consider third-party integration compatibility. Just like you do when you choose your new neighborhood.

Narrowing choices will make decisions easier.
Ask as many questions as you can in order to narrow those choices. Decisions and paths that are chosen at the beginning of a project are often carried through for months or years to come, even if there’s no longer a good rationale. Take time to document your team’s decisions, and talk through the alternatives. This will help answer any potential questions of “Why?” later on.

Commuter decisions and process flow

Weather plays a big part in my day-to-day routine in Chicago. Some days I may have to wear a jacket, snow boots, and carry an umbrella. On a typical day, I walk to the train stop, take the train downtown, then walk to the building. But some days, the train is delayed or super crowded. Other days, I work from home or a nearby coffee shop.

I may have a steady routine, but each day is different. So I may have settled on my method of getting to work, but the variables are so much different than they were back in New Orleans. This is very similar to our process.

We get into our flow: kicking off sprints on Monday, the implementation team works ticket-by-ticket, passing to each other to review, then on to QA to test. But not every ticket is created equal, nor the path to solve the Acceptance Criteria. Recognizing this, adapting to the daily changes and shifting context helps keep me a dynamic manager.

We build in one week agile sprints.
So, once the new environment is set up and defined, the building process can begin. Each week, we know where we’re starting and where we want to end up by Friday. But as you can see, the path to accomplishing a sprint commitment is almost never the same.

Rock it – and roll with it.

When things get crazy or hectic… Or confusing, or even boring, I acknowledge it’s all just growing pains. New projects can create chaotic, but exciting, times at Revelry. We have to learn to get to know each other and how to work with each other. Priorities within sprints can change, and so can our resources – that’s why our process of planning and adapting has to be solid, so that the variables don’t throw the whole project off.

The more experiences I have with new projects (and old ones too!), the more I learn, adapt, and rely on my skills and get us all to where we need to be. Working at a small, fast-paced company like Revelry is a thrill, so I enjoy the ride.

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